Champ Langdon Ends 2013 Season On Highest Note

| , RacinToday.com Monday, November 11 2013

Shawn Langdon wins big trophy and final race. (Photo courtesy of the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series)

Shawn Langdon book-ended his 2013 Top Fuel championship season Sunday with a victory in the 49th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona, just 20 miles from his boyhood home.

Langdon, who began the season with a win in February’s NHRA Winternationals at historic Auto Club Raceway, clinched his first Top Fuel title Saturday during qualifying. On Sunday, Langdon trailered Steve Torrence, David Grubnic and Clay Millican en route to a final-round pairing and victory over Doug Kalitta. The win was Langdon’s series-leading seventh in the Al-Anabi Racing dragster tuned by Alan Johnson.

“It was icing on the cake to win here today,” said Langdon, who grew up in Mira Loma, Calif. “I can’t even start to describe the emotion. I’m so proud of this team. It’s phenomenal to win and clinch the championship in Pomona in front of so many friends and family. There’s nothing this Al-Anabi Racing team can’t accomplish. I’m just glad to be a part of the magic.”

Meanwhile, Jeg Coughlin Jr. captured his fifth NHRA Pro Stock world championship on a day when Rickie Jones became a first-time winner in the Factory Hot Rod class. Also claiming event Wally trophies were Matt Hagan in Funny Car and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Langdon powered to a final-round 1,000-foot pass in 3.784-seconds at 323.58 mph to finish in front of Kalitta’s Mac Tools dragster, which posted numbers of 3.808-seconds at 322.04 mph.

“This is what I envisioned as a kid wanting to be a professional drag racer,” Langdon said. “When you’re living a dream and being part of something special, it almost puts you at a loss for words. I’m very fortunate to be a part of a great team. I still have to keep pinching myself.”

Langdon became only the sixth Top Fuel driver to sweep both Pomona races, joining Tony Schumacher (2004), Gary Scelzi (2000), Mike Dunn (1999), Darrell Gwynn (1989) and Gary Ormsby (1986).

“There are certain races you go to when you feel like you need to win the race as soon as you pull in the gates, and we definitely have that in Pomona,” Langdon said. “Alan works his magic out here, as you can see by his track record. My crew chief, Brian Husen, gave me a phenomenal car all weekend. The team has been in this position before, but it’s all new to me as a driver. I was a nervous wreck coming in but I built up some confidence as the weekend went on. My lights started getting better and better, and the car was getting better as well.”

Coughlin became the fourth and final Professional driver to clinch a 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship, joining Langdon, 16-time Funny Car title-holder John Force and two-time Pro Stock Bike champ Matt Smith.

Coughlin, who won four races in eight final rounds during the season at the controls of his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger, took the title when his only remaining challenger, two-time world champion Jason Line, lost in the second round.

“In this day and age, it is so tough to win out here,” said Coughlin, who sat-out the 2011 racing season. “We’ve seen a lot of races won and lost by just a few thousandths-of-a-second. I think this is one of the tightest, and one of the most intense championships I’ve ever won.”

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Coughlin became only the eighth driver in NHRA history to win five pro series championships. He also won a Super Gas title in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series in 1992. This title, his first since 2008, followed a disappointing 2012 campaign during which he failed to win a race and finished ninth in the point standings.

Coughlin’s performance returned to form this season as teammate to 2012 Pro Stock world champion Allen Johnson and father/engine-builder Roy Johnson at J&J Racing. Coughlin’s season ended in the quarterfinals, when he red-lighted against Johnson.

“To bring a second straight championship back to Auburn Hills (Mich.) for our friends at Mopar and another one to Greeneville, Tenn., for the J&J Racing crew, and now a seventh overall world championship to Delaware, Ohio, for everyone at JEGS, it feels fantastic,” Coughlin said. “It ranks right up there at the top.”

In Funny Car, Hagan gained a bit of revenge by defeating arch-rival Force in a marquee final-round pairing between the top two point-finishers. Hagan won the race without the assistance of crew chief Dickie Venables, recuperating in Indianapolis after a recent medical procedure. Hagan posted a 4.018-second 1,000-foot pass at 320.66 mph in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger to edge Force’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang at the finish.

“I’m on cloud nine that our assistant crew chief stepped-up and was able to fill some big shoes,” said Hagan, the 2011 world champion from Don Schumacher Racing. “Mike Knudsen has never tuned a race car and had to jump in and there hasn’t been a crew chief (from another team) up in our lounge. I mean, this guy has done a phenomenal job. It just shows you when something happens someone else can step-up and take the reins and run with it.”

Hagan earned his 10th career victory and second at this event by also outrunning Alexis DeJoria, Johnny Gray and two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon in earlier rounds. Hagan, who led the series standings for much of the season, finished second to Force for the second time (also 2010).

“My guys have been working so hard; I’m so proud of them,” Hagan said. “I wish we could have won the championship but that goes to John this year. I’m young in this sport; I’ll just come in and fight for it next year.”

Jones, 26, scored an emotional first career victory in Pro Stock, defeating Johnson in the final round. Jones, who became the ninth different winner in the competitive category, used a reaction time advantage to cover the quarter-mile in 6.584-seconds at 210.28 mph in his Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro to hold off Johnson’s quicker but losing Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, which finished in 6.581-seconds at 211.03 mph.

Jones outran Matt Hartford, four-time world champion Greg Anderson and Buddy Perkinson to advance to his fourth career final round. Jones broke into tears while climbing out of his car in the shutdown area.

“Man, it was so emotional,” Jones said. “You work for something so long, driving the race truck across the country and keep beating on it. This is what I’ve always wanted since I was racing Jr. Dragsters when I was 10. It seemed like it took forever for the win light to come on, and when it did, there were so many tears in my eyes that I almost couldn’t see the turnoff road. To get my first win at the Finals at Pomona, which is one of the biggest races of the year, is really awesome.”

Krawiec claimed his third win in his sixth consecutive Pro Stock Bike final-round at this event when he rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod to a quarter-mile performance of 6.918-seconds at 192.41 mph to deny Scotty Pollacheck his first win. Pollacheck trailed with a 6.963-second pass at 193.57 mph aboard his Quality Tire Buell.

“It was an awesome day,” said Krawiec, a three-time world champion. “I’m fortunate that this racetrack has been my ‘house.’ That’s the way I look at it. I do the best I can to not let anyone else win here. The odd stat is that I’ve won here every year that I’ve lost the championship, and won this race in years when I’ve lost the championship. I guess that it’s a good way to cap the season either way.”

Krawiec, who finished the season in third place in the standings, outran Steve Johnson, John Hall and Michael Ray en route to taking his second victory of the season and 22nd of his career. He celebrated the win with several Harley-Davidson executives, including Willie G (Davidson), the icon of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.

“I look up to him for what he’s done in the sport,” Krawiec said of his boss. “He has a long history of success in motorcycle racing. I ended up giving him the race-win Wally. He has everything he’s ever wanted but he didn’t have a Wally. That was just a small token of my appreciation for him.”

The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is scheduled to open on Feb. 6-9 with the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona .

Final finish order (1-16) at the 49th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Top Fuel _1. Shawn Langdon; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Clay Millican; 4. Brittany Force; 5. Morgan Lucas; 6. David Grubnic; 7. Antron Brown; 8. Brandon Bernstein; 9. Khalid alBalooshi; 10. Spencer Massey; 11. Terry McMillen; 12. Tony Schumacher; 13. Billy Torrence; 14. Bob Vandergriff Jr.; 15. Troy Buff; 16. Steve Torrence.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan; 2. John Force; 3. Gary Densham; 4. Cruz Pedregon; 5. Johnny Gray; 6. Ron Capps; 7. Bob Tasca III; 8. Jeff Arend; 9. Alexis DeJoria; 10. Del Worsham; 11. Chad Head; 12. Courtney Force; 13. Jack Beckman; 14. Robert Hight; 15. Tim Wilkerson; 16. Bob Bode.

Pro Stock _ 1. Rickie Jones; 2. Allen Johnson; 3. Buddy Perkinson; 4. Kurt Johnson; 5. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 6. Jason Line; 7. Greg Anderson; 8. Shane Gray; 9. V. Gaines; 10. Greg Stanfield; 11. Rodger Brogdon; 12. Erica Enders-Stevens; 13. Vincent Nobile; 14. Matt Hartford; 15. Bruno Massel; 16. Mike Edwards.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. Scotty Pollacheck; 3. Michael Ray; 4. Katie Sullivan; 5. Hector Arana Jr.; 6. Hector Arana; 7. Shawn Gann; 8. John Hall; 9. Chaz Kennedy; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Adam Arana; 12. Andrew Hines; 13. LE Tonglet; 14. Jim Underdahl; 15. Angie Smith; 16. Matt Smith.

Sunday’s final results from the 49th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona:

Top Fuel _ Shawn Langdon, 3.784-seconds, 323.58 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 3.808-seconds, 323.04 mph.

Funny Car _ Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.018, 320.66 def. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.057, 317.94.

Pro Stock _ Rickie Jones, Chevy Camaro, 6.584, 210.28 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.581, 211.03.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.918, 192.41 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.963, 193.57.

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Johnny Ahten, 5.428, 259.86 def. Jim Whiteley, 8.590, 95.50.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Frank Manzo, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.531, 265.06 def. Clint Thompson, Monte Carlo, 6.758, 161.59.

Competition Eliminator _ Jeff Lane, Chevy Cobalt, 9.863, 95.50 def. Doug Lambeck, Pontiac Sunfire, foul.

Super Stock _ Jeff Adkinson, Chevy Cobalt, 8.722, 153.74 def. Don Keen, Ford Mustang, foul.

Stock Eliminator _ Bo Butner, Ford Mustang, 9.951, 133.65 def. Peter Biondo, Chevy Camaro, 10.393, 124.37.

Super Comp _Bobby Dye Jr., Dragster, 8.915, 169.06 def. Andrew Madrid, Dragster, 8.938, 166.15.

Super Gas _ Pete Zak, ’27-T Ford, 9.881, 147.29 def. Dave Kelly, Pontiac Firebird, 9.877, 153.00.

Summit Super Pro _ Edmond Richardson, American, 7.269, 170.82 def. Mark Simons, Yancer, 7.566, 178.99.

Summit Pro _ Alvie Merrill, Chevy Camaro, 10.231, 129.47 def. Kip Norup, Ford Thunderbird, 9.892, 137.37.

Summit Bike _ Chad Isley, Suzuki GSXR, 8.842, 148.36 def. Jon Haner, Honda, 9.688, 137.25.

Summit Sportsman _ Jeff Hefler, Chevy Impala, 12.233, 105.36 def. Gary Hairfield, Chevy Corvette, 12.108, 119.46.

Final round-by-round results from the 49th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona:


Round One _ Morgan Lucas, 3.793, 325.22 def. Terry McMillen, 4.969, 145.61; Clay Millican, 3.791, 325.30 def. Troy Buff, 9.993, 77.20; Brandon Bernstein, 4.410, 222.07 def. Billy Torrence, 8.151, 83.24; Shawn Langdon, 3.781, 322.42 def. Steve Torrence, 17.243, 44.03; Doug Kalitta, 3.757, 328.70 def. Tony Schumacher, 5.441, 133.99; Antron Brown, 3.762, 324.75 def. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 9.300, 85.11; David Grubnic, 3.839, 309.70 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 4.250, 205.47; Brittany Force, 4.594, 188.25 def. Spencer Massey, 4.763, 224.21;

Quarterfinals _ Force, 3.855, 313.37 def. Bernstein, 6.311, 105.96; Millican, 3.776, 325.77 def. Lucas, 3.782, 320.13; Kalitta, 3.797, 325.22 def. Brown, 3.825, 310.84; Langdon, 3.779, 326.08 def. Grubnic, 3.802, 319.45;

Semifinals _ Kalitta, 3.791, 325.77 def. Force, 12.487, 43.18; Langdon, 3.756, 326.87 def. Millican, 4.155, 199.67;

Final _ Langdon, 3.784, 323.58 def. Kalitta, 3.808, 323.04.


Round One _ Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.101, 309.56 def. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.495, 233.40; Gary Densham, Charger, 4.100, 305.91 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.131, 303.91; Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.108, 309.56 def. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.260, 256.50; John Force, Mustang, 4.036, 317.12 def. Bob Bode, Chevy Impala, 5.316, 132.09; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.059, 315.27 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.056, 314.24; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.089, 315.19 def. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.657, 183.97; Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.092, 313.07 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.212, 257.43; Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.452, 207.46 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 5.138, 161.00;

Quarterfinals _ C. Pedregon, 5.207, 267.43 def. Tasca III, 5.626, 242.93; Densham, 4.128, 302.48 def. Capps, 4.312, 254.86; Hagan, 4.070, 309.98 def. Gray, 4.086, 311.56; J. Force, 5.533, 183.94 def. Arend, 11.451, 66.72;

Semifinals _ J. Force, 4.043, 314.83 def. Densham, 4.128, 297.16; Hagan, 4.057, 315.56 def. C. Pedregon, 4.134, 288.09;

Final _ Hagan, 4.018, 320.66 def. J. Force, 4.057, 317.94.


Round One _ Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.586, 211.03 def. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.595, 211.59; Buddy Perkinson, Camaro, 6.680, 207.02 def. Bruno Massel, Camaro, 6.750, 208.07; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.537, 212.09 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Avenger, 6.555, 212.03; Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.536, 211.56 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.586, 210.77; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.560, 211.76 def. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.583, 210.28; Kurt Johnson, Pontiac GXP, 10.021, 104.02 def. Mike Edwards, Camaro, no time; Rickie Jones, Camaro, 6.532, 211.73 def. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.635, 209.39; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Avenger, 6.544, 211.26 def. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.601, 210.57;

Quarterfinals _ K. Johnson, 6.587, 210.08 def. Gray, 16.018, 53.75; Perkinson, 6.567, 211.96 def. Line, 6.685, 211.43; A. Johnson, 6.566, 211.63 def. Coughlin, foul; Jones, 6.546, 211.96 def. Anderson, 10.800, 83.97;

Semifinals _ A. Johnson, 6.548, 211.23 def. K. Johnson, 6.598, 210.34; Jones, 6.548, 211.86 def. Perkinson, 6.574, 211.83;

Final _ Jones, 6.584, 210.28 def. A. Johnson, 6.581, 211.03.


Round One _ Michael Ray, Buell, 6.894, 193.71 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.934, 192.49; Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.973, 194.52 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.500, 145.52; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.930, 190.70 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.923, 193.13; Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.856, 194.91 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.875, 193.54; Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.912, 193.79 def. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.923, 195.82; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.926, 193.24 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.979, 195.00; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.871, 195.73 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.931, 192.08; John Hall, Buell, foul def. Matt Smith, Buell, DQ;

Quarterfinals _ Ray, 6.987, 191.24 def. Gann, foul; Sullivan, 6.918, 195.34 def. Arana Jr., 6.878, 193.18; Krawiec, 6.928, 191.46 def. Hall, 7.056, 186.00; Pollacheck, 6.882, 194.10 def. H. Arana, 6.905, 195.36;

Semifinals _ Krawiec, 6.957, 191.05 def. Ray, 6.979, 191.29; Pollacheck, 6.949, 191.51 def. Sullivan, 7.004, 185.54;

Final _ Krawiec, 6.918, 192.41 def. Pollacheck, 6.963, 193.57.

Final point standings (top-10) following the 49th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona:

Top Fuel _1. Shawn Langdon, 2,653; 2. Antron Brown, 2,489; 3. Doug Kalitta, 2,488; 4. Morgan Lucas, 2,422; 5. Spencer Massey, 2,422; 6. Clay Millican, 2,404; 7. Tony Schumacher, 2,394; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 2,286; 9. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 2,251; 10. Steve Torrence, 2,217.

Funny Car _1. John Force, 2,688; 2. Matt Hagan, 2,548; 3. Jack Beckman, 2,445; 4. Cruz Pedregon, 2,415; 5. Robert Hight, 2,413; 6. Ron Capps, 2,406; 7. Courtney Force, 2,403; 8. Del Worsham, 2,309; 9. Johnny Gray, 2,309; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,238.

Pro Stock _1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 2,572; 2. Allen Johnson, 2,514; 3. Jason Line, 2,502; 4. Mike Edwards, 2,482; 5. Shane Gray, 2,480; 6. Erica Enders-Stevens, 2,406; 7. V. Gaines, 2,355; 8. Greg Anderson, 2,345; 9. Vincent Nobile, 2,298; 10. Rodger Brogdon, 2,147.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Matt Smith, 2,633; 2. Michael Ray, 2,510; 3. Eddie Krawiec, 2,492; 4. Hector Arana Jr., 2,464; 5. Hector Arana, 2,456; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,385; 7. LE Tonglet, 2,383; 8. John Hall, 2,351; 9. Shawn Gann, 2,247; 10. Adam Arana, 2,244.

| , RacinToday.com Monday, November 11 2013
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